On the way to Atlanta, I had been making plans for visiting the city that I had not been to for a long time, until someone suggested I go to Stone Mountain. After reading a little about it, it actually sounded like a good idea. So I took the subway to Kensington Station, where I boarded a bus towards the village with the same name. I realized I was the only non-black person on the bus. Getting off was easy: when the mountain appeared on my left, I waited a little, until we turned right. I bought myself a sandwich in the Stone Mountain bakery, and was on the way to the foot of the mountain. It was a very cold day, considering it was one of the last days of March and some snow flakes were swirling down from above on their long way to the earth. To my surprise, I found many school buses parked, and kids running around the information centre.
A friendly lady welcomed me inside, where I got some more information about Stone Mountain, saw a movie about the history of the making of the memorial, before I headed to the summit of the mountain. After an unfortunate fall a few weeks before in which I badly hurt my knee, I was still on the way to recovery, and I was careful walking up the rocky surface of the mountain. From a distance, it had looked like a whitish mountain, but to my surprise, I found myself walking through a small forest on a gently sloping mountain. When I reached the upper part, there were no more trees; an icy wind was now blowing through me, but at the same time, the views were great. There were still a few trees here and there; it was only when I reached the summit of the mountain that I was walking on the bare, quartz monzonite rock, some 250m above the surrouding area, and a little over 500m above sea level. Sweeping views on all sides, even on this cloudy day; when I turned around, I could see the fingers of the skyline of Atlanta pointing towards the sky, high above the surrounding plains. So this is where the Ku Klux Klan held meetings around a century ago.
After walking around the summit, trying in vain to find shelter from the cold wind, and refusing to go inside, I walked back next to a fence on the northern side of the monolith. I knew that below me was the memorial for which Stone Mountain is famous. I followed a different trail a little lower, through the forest, heading directly to the trail leading to the north face of Stone Mountain. After another 15 minutes, I reached an open space in the woods, with a small lake with three fountains, and knew I had arrived. Turning my view upwards, I could now finally see for real what I had seen close-up in the movie: on this steep side of Stone Mountain, expert rock carvers had sculpted a colossal memorial honouring three Confederate leaders of the Civil War: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis, mounted on their horses. The scene subtly appears from the rocky surface. From here, it was difficult to imagine the sheer size of the figures: a man could easily stand on the ear of a horse, and a dinner table had been mounted in one of the figures when the work was completed after more than half a century of planning, work (Borglum, Lukeman, and Hancock as the main carvers), disputes, and wars. Even from a distance, it was clear to me that the work had been finely done, especially considering the circumstances under which the carvers had to work. I was happy having seen the memorial, happy having climbed Stone Mountain, and ready to walk back to the village, and take the bus to Atlanta.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Stone Mountain (U.S.A.). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Stone Mountain.
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